Tuesday, August 31, 2010

nature art

My daughter G took art lessons this summer (and last few summers) from a family friend MT who was an art teacher until her school cut her position. (MT nows works at a photography studio and will be starting her own business.) G chose a photograph that I took from our Taiwan trip in July 2009, a scene from the Alishan mountain forest near the city Chiayi where I was born and lived with my grandmother until I was seven years old.

I will continue to seek art education for G who loves to create art. The art instruction in her school is great but not enough, never enough. (Similarly, she should have physical education every day, not just twice a week.) She will take a few "kids watercolor" classes in October at our local botanical gardens.

the story of my reading MOCKINGJAY

This story starts last Thursday when I received the book from USPS around 1:00 in the afternoon. It references some SPOILERS, probably offers not much plot summary, and mostly accounts how I read the book.

Slowly, a few chapters at a time, I read in the afternoon. I wanted to savor the story and the characters' return to my mind. Sometimes I realized I read aloud passages in a whisper because the descriptions, characterizations, and dialogue fed the cravings that I put on hold all these months waiting for the book release. I soaked up Katniss' reactions to her "rescue" and the people around her and the ones missing. I cried whenever Katniss saw something (the dresses, the uniform) made by Cinna (probably because I watch too much Project Runway). Missing was the panic I felt when Gale showed up at the end of Catching Fire, presumably (in my mind) to "replace" Peeta in Katniss' life. I saw Katniss' role as Mockingjay take shape and the essence of her character re-emerge during the staged and unstaged forays into "battle".

Many distractions surrounded and helped me in this slow reading endeavor - my child, the computer, my journal, TV, dinner, the rest of our family, and so on. The slow quality of reading is not natural to me, but slow reading that afternoon felt like yoga practice with measured breathing, balanced.

The pace shifted into FAST mode, my usual style for reading excellent action/adventure novels, around 10:00 that night, when it was dark and quiet in the house, and I read and pushed and read and finished at about 3:00 in the morning, Friday. Then I was awake for at least another hour, unable to rest my mind that was full of Katniss and Peeta's struggles to survive and fight for justice, graphic violence that always seems unnecessary to me but prevalent in this trilogy, and random thoughts about the upcoming school year.

I'm relieved their story has ended. The consummate survivor is Katniss Everdeen.

Monday, August 23, 2010


There. I just wanted to say the word here. I've been tweeting about it, commented on Facebook and linked to video of Suzanne Collins reading aloud the first chapter, searched for tweets that contain the word. I've re-read the last 7 chapters of Catching Fire and learned I forgot most of the first 2 books DUH so had to read Wikipedia plot summary LAME.

My copy is in transit from Kentucky, thanks a lot FREE Super Saver Shipping Amazon.com. Even the tracking system says "don't bother checking too often, you won't get update for the next 3 days, it's ON the way, lady". THANKS.

Oh yeah, just noticed I took a week off blogging, huh? The Main Event of last week was my chauffeur job during Nature Camp at our local Buffalo Zoo, catering to the transportation needs of two 9 year olds, my daughter and her best friend/our next door neighbor. They had fun and learned many new things about animals, including humans, especially boys in their group that chanted, "Girls go to Jupiter to get stupider, boys go to college to get more knowledge".

During the 6 hours between camp drop-off and pick-up, I contemplated the many ways in which this fun and educational nature camp did NOT provide content literacy, aka one of my education pet peeves. Just make a simple, daily one-page newsletter to send home with the campers - "Here's what we learned today!" Add a few charts, puzzles, FAQs, TA-DA! CONTENT LITERACY!

Every day the drive home from camp involved questions (repeated in various forms) from yours truly about what the girls read (mostly nothing, not even a nature/science/animal book) and what they wrote (nothing, except their names on drawings they made, using crayons). HELLO these are very literate girls entering fourth grade!!!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

"This is just to say"

I love the crisp simplicity of "This is just to say" by William Carlos Williams:

Friday, August 13, 2010

sister salad breaks it down

This video is for all you people who care about punctuation, capitalization, usage, etc. Thank you, Kathryn from Thrifty Schoolmarm, for sharing this on your teacher blog!

last day summer writing camp!

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Above pic from day 5 of 6 summer writing camp - The girls made bookmarks with acrostic poems. I found the character trait list from Readwritethink.org and games from Familyfun.go.com and puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com

Today we're wrapping it up! They will each share a little personal story, either from their writer's notebook or drawings.

Monday, August 9, 2010

summer wake-up

Today was my summer wake-up moment. This morning I was chatting with two other moms, and one said, "3 weeks left of summer vacation! Can't end soon enough!"

*GASP* Just 3 weeks left? Quick check of calendar told me I have 4 weeks. WHEW. Still. Gotta enjoy every single moment :D

Summer writing workshop update: I'm losing steam, I admit, halfway through. The younger children present more challenges than I have energy and interest to conquer. I do enjoy seeing the older ones cruise along merrily in their writing!

Soccer season has begun for us! My husband coaches my daughter's team (town "house" league, she's age 9). Here's a 12 second video of the torrential rain just before the end of the first quarter, after which time thunder and lightning shut the whole thing down. Thankfully. This is her first rain-out in her third year of soccer, and we now feel fully inducted in soccer life. (The rain was so ridiculous and funny, except I was deathly afraid it would kill my iPhone 4 that recorded this moment. You can sort of see the players on the field, the coaches on the other side holding umbrellas, and of course see MY colorful umbrella and HEAR the rain.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

summer writing camp day 1

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My six campers are in this picture, working in their writing notebooks! (My daughter looks like she's covering her nose/face, but I think she's just pushing up her glasses.)

What I learned - give the older kids more independent writing time, use that time to work with younger kids (conference, writing activity, guided reading, etc.)

2 of the girls had to go out of town for family matter, so I only have 4 for days 2 and 3. No problem! Gives me time to try out the age grouping.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ready for summer writing camp!

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This is our dining table and room, ready for my campers who may start to arrive in about 15 minutes! My daughter (above pic) is preparing a "sample" folder cover. My plan for this Day 1 of camp is to introduce the writing folder and writer's notebook, design covers for both, chat about memoir (as "me" story, "remember" story, etc.), read a few examples, write a bit in the notebook.

The writer's notebook is a place to collect our ideas (aka "writing territories") on paper - bits and pieces about ourselves, our likes and dislikes, personal experiences, opinions, etc. It serves as a mine of writing topics and details. I created the notebooks from 11 sheets of blank copy paper, folded in half, stapled, drew lines on alternate pages. (The 5 year olds have more blank space than lined space.)

THEY'RE HERE! Gotta go!!!